THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn
Barna’s most recent list of the country’s most unchurched cities is dotted with Illinois metro areas, but only two have populations that rank above the national unchurched percentage: 38%. (Barna defines “unchurched” as those who haven’t attended a church service in the last six months, except for a holiday or special occasion.)
The metro area composed of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois ranked 27th on Barna’s list of most unchurched cities, with an unchurched population of 42%. Chicago is a few places down the list, at No. 32 with 39% of the population unchurched.
Other familiar cities: St. Louis is 45th, Champaign/Springfield/Decatur is 53rd, and Harrisburg and Mt. Vernon (along with Paducah, Ky., and Cap Girardeau, Mo.) are 80th.
Does young = pacifist? Maybe not necessarily, according to a Harvard poll of young Americans that found nearly 60% approve of sending ground troops to fight ISIS.
Imprisoned pastor urges prayer | Saeed Abedini’s 35th birthday coincides May 7 with the National Day of Prayer in the U.S., which is the focus of a letter he wrote from prison in Iran. “As Ezra cried out to God in repentance and the Israelites joined him in weeping bitterly and turning from their sin, I would like to ask you to join me in repenting and praying for revival,” Abedini wrote. This story from The Christian Post also reports on the political chaos swirling around the pastor’s captivity and the fight for his release.
New nominees for persecuted countries list | The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended the State Department add eight countries to a list of the “world’s worst violators of religious liberty,” Baptist Press reports. The Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan and Vietnam all were nominated for the list of CPC’s (countries of particular concern), along with nine nations already on the list.
10 questions from Court’s marriage arguments | Transcripts of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments on same-sex marriage are available online, as is this guide–provided by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission–to the 10 most important questions asked by the justices. For example, would it be unwise for the Court to redefine an institution as ancient as marriage? And would redefining marriage impose on institutions’ religious liberty, like the loss of tax-exempt status?